Covid 19 coronavirus: Would NZ return to alert level 2.5 for tourism? Jacinda Ardern clarifies Ashley Bloomfield’s comments

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shut down the idea that New Zealand will return to life under Covid-19 alert level 2.5 when the borders open.

It comes after director general of health Ashley Bloomfield yesterday floated a future vision that opening up the country’s border to vaccinated tourists could require Kiwis to return to alert level 2.5.

Speaking on Newstalk ZB show Mornings with Kerre McIvor, Ardern said it would more likely be a “1.5 environment”.

“I spoke to [Bloomfield] and he said he was referencing more a 1.5 environment, with things like QR code scanning, those kind of things we need to be aware of on a day-to-day in that transition period,” Ardern said.

The Prime Minister’s comments came in response to a caller who was worried the country was now being restricted to gatherings of 10 again.

Ardern was quick to say that was not the case, saying it was a discussion about creating extra “buffers” when we do open the borders, which could be at the end of this year depending how are vaccination rates are looking.

She said there was no suggestion that for three to five years New Zealand will be in a constant level of a 2.5 environment.

“A lot of it is going to come down to how many people we have vaccinated, the more people we have vaccinated the more freedom we can have.”

She said in the same way we have immunisations for measles, we do still have outbreaks from time to time and we have to make sure we contain those.

The Prime Minister also said she would be getting her first Covid-19 vaccination “soon” before she heads to Australia to lead a trade and promotional delegation.

Ardern dedicated an hour to answering questions from Newstalk ZB callers.

Prime Minister on Trevor Mallard

McIvor said a lot of listeners were asking Ardern why she chose to stick with Trevor Mallard after he accused a former parliamentary staffer – to whom he had previously apologised for claiming he was a rapist – of sexual assault.

“I don’t believe he handled that situation well, however it’s a big difference between that and saying that I generally have a lack of confidence in him as Speaker.”

She said she did not believe there would be a repeat of this issue.

“I have not called for the resignation of anyone involved in this but nor do I believe anyone has come out of this looking good. There were other MPs involved.

“Rather than pointing figures at who needs to resign, let’s step back and, as parliamentarians, take responsibility for improving the environment we all work in,” Ardern said.

Ardern spoke ahead of Budget 2021, which will be announced next Thursday, May 20.

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